I am 68 years old. My parents were immigrants from Poland in the late 1940s, having fled war-torn Europe following World War II. I was born and raised in Lincoln — the only one in my family to be a native-born American. I met my best friend, Mary Cariotto, during my last year at UNL, where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Mary and I married after we both graduated from UNL. We have three wonderful children: Andy (Laura), Betsy (Jeff) and Angela (Russell). Our children married great people and each couple has one child. Lucy, 5, belongs to Andy and Laura; Sebastian, 7, belongs to Betsy and Jeff; and Enzo, 5 months, belongs to Angela and Russell. Mary spent her career working at UNL, retiring in 2018 from the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. I retired in 2018 from the State of Nebraska Department of Agriculture, after 40 years of service — mostly as the Nebraska Agricultural Trade Representative.
What is your position at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?
Initially, Vice Chancellor Boehm asked me to be interim director of the IANR Office of Global Engagement, and I was happy to accept. Now, I am special assistant to the IANR Harlan Vice Chancellor, liaising with agricultural commodity boards and other associations, as well as with the Omaha business community.
What drew you to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?
I had worked with and knew Vice Chancellor Boehm through my work at the State Department of Agriculture. I also knew of his goals through my wife’s work.
What aspect of working in an educational setting do you enjoy the most?
I worked outside of the educational setting during my career. However, I observed Mary working at UNL and knew how much she enjoyed all aspects of the education setting. I was thrilled to have an opportunity to work at my alma mater, especially knowing and respecting Vice Chancellor Boehm.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I believe my greatest achievement during my career was doing something for the greater good. I worked to find and expand markets for Nebraska’s agricultural products in countries needing food, like China, Vietnam and other developing — and also developed — countries. I once counted more than 30 countries I worked in, time and time again. I was able to do this by working with Nebraska’s agricultural producers and processors. It was a wonderful and fulfilling career. Now, I get to have a small part in moving IANR forward and working with Vice Chancellor Boehm.
What is something that most people don’t know about you?
My parents were taken from their homes in Poland by the German army in 1939, when they were 14 years old. They were loaded into boxcars and taken to Germany, where they were forced to work during the entirety of World War II. They were liberated by the U.S. military in 1945, when the war ended. My parents met when they were relocated to a resettlement camp in Germany, where they married and had two daughters — my two sisters. My family immigrated to the U.S. through Virginia and finally settled in Lincoln, Nebraska. I was born four years after they arrived in Lincoln. My mother-in-law and father-in-law were raised during the Depression and taught me a lot about life and the importance of helping people.
What is your life like outside of work?
My wife and I enjoyed traveling internationally before COVID-19 changed that. However, our newest grandson, Enzo, arrived in December 2020 and we are spending time with him and with our other grandchildren.